Cemetery trash to be made into thermal blankets, jackets
Rhodina Villanueva, Rey Galupo (The Philippine Star) - November 3, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — At least 12 truckloads of garbage were collected inside the Manila North Cemetery following the observance of the All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day holidays, but not all of it will end up as trash.

Plastic items in the garbage will be converted by a Buddhist organization into jackets and blankets.

Volunteers from different non-government organizations yesterday said they recovered plastic bottles, soft drink bottles and other types of waste inside the 50-hectare cemetery, despite repeated public reminders to dispose of trash properly.

The local government of Manila assigned 50 sweepers inside the cemetery but the enormity of the task was overwhelming, according to a volunteer.

Members of the Tzu Chi Foundation said the plastic bottles they collected would be converted to thermal blankets and jackets, which they will distribute to typhoon victims all over the country.

Angelito Isidro, Tzu Chi Foundation spokesman, said they have already
 collected more than five tons of bottles from different cemeteries starting Oct. 20.

They have also collected old newspapers, which Isidro said will be sold and the proceeds given to sick persons for medicine.

Disgusting

The EcoWaste Coalition, a zero waste advocacy group, expressed dismay over the unabated violation of the national ban on littering as millions crowded cemeteries on Thursday.

Various sectors, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and some members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, had appealed to the public not to turn cemeteries into dumpsites.

“Our cemeteries again teemed with garbage. We lament the brazen disregard of Republic Act 9003, which explicitly bans and penalizes littering – the most common and visible environmental offense committed during the observance of Undas and other popular festivities,” Daniel Alejandre of the coalition said, citing field reports received from the group’s Basura Patrollers in 22 public and private cemeteries in Metro Manila.

RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act prohibits the “littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places, such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks, and establishment, or causing or permitting the same.”

“Littering, which is also forbidden under local government ordinances, has regrettably become an ugly feature of our beautiful tradition of remembering family members who have gone before us,” Alejandre said.

“Littering is totally disrespectful for the dead and for Mother Nature too, and goes against the very purpose of going to the cemetery to pay respects to lost loved ones. There is no reason for visitors to leave their trash behind and expect others to clean up after them,” he added.

The group noted that littering was most widespread at the Bagbag Public Cemetery in Quezon City, Sangandaan Cemetery in Caloocan City, Manila North Cemetery and, most notably, Manila South Cemetery

Among the discards found in cemetery streets and alleys, and even in between tombs, were food paper and plastic packaging, food leftovers, plastic bags, bottles and cups, flower plastic wrappings, soiled diapers and improvised resting materials such as newspapers and corrugated boxes.

“The extent of the massive littering at the Bagbag Public Cemetery became more apparent as 17 sweepers deployed by the Quezon City government cleaned up the area yesterday morning. The street gutters and the alleys of ‘apartment tombs’ were strewn with rubbish made worse by the food offerings left by visitors. Also, some visitors were seen puffing cigarettes despite the ban on smoking in public places,” Alejandre said.              

The waste bins at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City were found to be overflowing with trash as early as 6 a.m. of Nov. 1, which obviously came from early visitors on Oct. 31. 

Piles of garbage-filled black plastic bags were also found at Serenity Park in Taguig City.               

The group criticized the political tarpaulins that have sprouted in many places, particularly in cemeteries in Caloocan, Malabon and Mandaluyong cities.    

Aside from littering and mixed waste disposal, Alejandre also noted other violations of RA 9003, such as the open burning of garbage as can be seen from the ash residues found in Manila South Cemetery, Manila North Cemetery and San Felipe Neri Catholic Cemetery.

The group also noted that Section 48 of RA 9003 penalizes open dumping and open burning, and violators could be fined for the indiscriminate disposal of waste matter. 

As per RA 9003, litterbugs could be fined P300 to P1,000 and/or be required to render community service from one to 15 days.

GARBAGE MANILA NORTH CEMETERY
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